'Erinnerung ideologisch entschlacken' or Lost in Translation: Reflections on Jana Hensel's Zonenkinder and its American Translation

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Abstract

Jana Hensel's stated intention in her best-selling Zonenkinder (2002) was 'Erinnerung ideologisch zu entschlacken', to present the former GDR not as a political system but as the 'Herkunftsraum' of her childhood experience. The text is rich in historical and cultural allusions, but these are often presented from the perspective of the experiencing child who either does not fully understand them or takes them for granted. This presents a serious challenge to the translator of Zonenkinder, who must negotiate between the culture of the source text and that of the target audience. This paper argues that the American translation of Zonenkinder, After the Wall (2004), frequently distorts the tone of the source text by using a much more explicit political language than the original, thus imposing another ideological framework on an ostensibly non-ideological text in order to make it comprehensible (and perhaps acceptable) to the new target audience. At the same time, however, Hensel's references to the 'Aufklärung' discourse prevalent at the time of the 'Wende' and other cultural allusions which suggest a less obvious political message prove more difficult to capture in translation.
Translated title of the contribution'Erinnerung ideologisch entschlacken' or Lost in Translation: Reflections on Jana Hensel's Zonenkinder and its American Translation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133 - 148
Number of pages16
JournalGerman Life and Letters
Volume60 (1)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Blackwell Synergy

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